Apple has acquired the the one-man photo technology startup SnappyLabs. The app was removed from the App Store — along with its website and Twitter account before the end of the year. TechCrunch first reported about the acquisition stating that –Sources have since affirmed that the company was acquired by Apple, and that there was also acquisition interest “from most of the usual players”, meaning other tech giants. Later Apple confirmed the acquisition.
The startup was founded and run solely by John Papandriopoulos, an electrical engineering PhD from the University Of Melbourne who invented a way to make the iPhone’s camera take full-resolution photos at 20 to 30 frames per second which was reportedly faster than Apple’s native iPhone camera. With the acquisition, it seems likely that Apple will integrate the SnappyCam technology into its native iOS and OS X camera programs and APIs. Apple added burst mode photo shooting to iOS 7, allowing iPhone 5s owners to shoot 10 photos per second at full resolution, in order to get the best shot in action scenes or with fast-moving children.
The technology developed by Papandriopoulos used discrete cosine transform JPG science which is considered as reinventing the JPG image format. In a blog post, which now not available, the SnappyLabs founder explained — “First we studied the fast discrete cosine transform (DCT) algorithms…We then extended some of that research to create a new algorithm that’s a good fit for the ARM NEON SIMD co-processor instruction set architecture. The final implementation comprises nearly 10,000 lines of hand-tuned assembly code, and over 20,000 lines of low-level C code. (In comparison, the SnappyCam app comprises almost 50,000 lines of Objective C code.)
JPEG compression comprises two parts: the DCT (above), and a lossless Huffman compression stage that forms a compact JPEG file. Having developed a blazing fast DCT implementation, Huffman then became a bottleneck. We innovated on that portion with tight hand-tuned assembly code that leverages special features of the ARM processor instruction set to make it as fast as possible.”